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A Game of Masks Master List

To make it easier to find the chapters I've created this list, not that I have all that many posts to sort through.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapters 4 & 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11

U-Kiss's new music video

I can't stop playing this song, it is so addictive. Drama about the change in member line up aside, this was really well done. It is nice to hear more balance between the members in terms of number of lines although Kiseop needs to be given way more.

Writer's Block: Happy, happy, joy, joy

Which song makes you happy every time you hear it, and why?

Haengbok by Super Junior does it for me every time. It's such a cute, peppy song and the video is all kinds of adorable.

Musical Meme

Reply to this post and I'll assign you a letter.
List (and upload/link) 5 songs you love that begin with that letter.
Post them to your journal with these instructions.

dizzy_grace gave me M

My 5 songs hereCollapse )

Writer's Block: Sweat it out

Should physical education in schools be mandatory, and why?

As much as I didn't enjoy the majority of phys ed and dreaded my classmates' comments I think it's important to keep it in school. Things have changed since I was young for a variety of reasons so kids aren't getting the physical exercise outside of school that they normally did. When I was young it wasn't unusual for me to spend hours treking through the woods or playing softball and tag every day during the summer or just running around the neighborhood with a bunch of kids. Most kids aren't able to do that anymore and if is wasn't for phys ed they wouldn't get really any exercise at all. Plus, getting up & moving around helps kids focus better when they are in class.

A Game of Masks Chapter 11

Title: A Game of Masks
Pairings: Super Junior Members + OCs
Rating: PG-13 for violence
Notes: Character death, Medieval/Fantasy AU, occasional crack

Summary: Magic, intrigue and secrets abound in and around the king's court. While everyone has something to hide, some have more than others. Who has the biggest secret and will it end up tearing the kingdom apart?

Queen Jagroop sat in the ladies' solarium surrounded by others, yet utterly alone. The words passing between the other women just flowed over and around her. When Jagroop first came to court she found the chatter very difficult to follow due to the language barrier. Over time, as her understanding and fluency in Cordish improved she realized that the topics of conversation bored her. Discussions about problems with the servants, child-rearing and drama amongst the royal houses - the queen found them to be banal & trivial. She would rather discuss the bloodlines of the newest additions to the royal stables or the changing economies in other kingdoms and the subsequent effects on their own economy. The few times she had brought these topics up in conversation she was met with blank or incredulous stares, throat clearing and outright derision. After a few awkward moments, someone else would return to their previous conversation, as if Jagroop hadn't spoken.

As queen, she could have dictated that they discuss only what interested her. She didn't do it because it wasn't in her nature to force others to do her will and also because she knew doing so would not endear her to the other women. So on the occasions when Jagroop would join the other ladies during the day she would keep silent while her mind wandered until she was lost in a world of her own making. Today the queen's mind thought back to her first meeting with Lady Brinny-chan.

Flashback and Jagroop's POV

Lady Amelie, Lady Brinny-chan and I walked in silence from the Great Hall to a receiving room. Once we arrived and sat down there was a few awkward moments, waiting for someone to start talking. As much as I had been waiting to meet the ambassador's wife, now that the time had come I honestly didn't know what to say to her. Thankfully, Amelie soon ended the silence by saying, “Your Majesty, may I present to you the wife of Formosian Ambassador Han Geng, the Lady Brinny-chan.”

Brinny-chan bowed as best she could while seated. I smiled and welcomed her, trying my best to pronounce the words with as little accent as possible. I figured if native Cordish speakers have trouble understanding my speech at times, then someone who learned Cordish as a second language may have even more difficulty. Apparently Brinny-chan understood me fine because she smiled and said how happy she was to finally meet me. Her accent wasn't nearly as thick as mine; it made me wonder how long the lady had studied the language. Not being able to think of anything else to say, I asked her about it.

Brinny-chan replied, “I've studied Cordish for about two and a half years. I first began learning it when I still lived on the Isle of Syla and then continued once I moved to Formosa.”

I must have had a confused look on my face because Amelie said, “Lady Brinny-chan is Sylese by birth. She didn't move to Formosa until she married the ambassador. That is one of the reasons I wanted to introduce her to you; I thought your similar backgrounds might mean you two have much in common.”

At this point, my smile was so large it threatened to break my face. Maybe there was someone after all who could understand my struggles, insecurities and loneliness. In my excitement I began speaking rapidly in Hashbutani.

Laughing at my joy, Brinny-chan said, “Your Majesty, I can barely understand what you are saying.” Hearing her speak in my native language shocked me into silence. She laughed again and switching to Cordish explained that she had briefly learned Hashbutani years ago. Her language tutor switched to Formi once her engagement to a Formosian diplomat was announced. “I've always been sad that I couldn't continue my lessons. Perhaps I'll be able to brush up on my forgotten vocabulary and learn some new words while I am here,” Brinny-chan said.

Amelie excused herself, saying that we were getting on well and there were some other people she needed to see before the feast was over. I was a little nervous at being left alone with a stranger; however, I was hopeful that we would be able to speak freely with each other now that it was just the two of us. “You seem to be very good with languages,” I commented.

“Yes, it's always been one of my strong points. I think it's one of the reasons my father chose me as Geng's wife. He knew that whoever became the wife of an ambassador would be expected to learn one or more languages. Being able to learn Formi and Cordish without too much difficulty helped with all the changes my life went through. What about you?” she asked me.

Grimacing slightly I said, “Honestly, I'm not that good at learning new languages. My slow progress was one of the reasons it took awhile for my father and Kangin's family to finally decide on our marriage. Living here has improved my ability to speak and understand Cordish. It probably would be good if I could learn a little of the languages of the surrounding kingdoms. However, at this point I think everyone will be content if I master this kingdom's language.”

Brinny-chan smiled and said, “Don't worry. Everyone has different strengths. The fact you were chosen to marry the king shows that you do have personality traits and abilities that are suitable for the position. Our different abilities are why I am an ambassador's wife and you are a queen.” I sat for several moments thinking about what she had said. After some time I realized she had a point.

“You know, I never thought of it in that way. I guess I was so focused on what I couldn't do.” Having people snicker when I misspoke or roll their eyes when I committed yet another faux pas didn't help my feelings of self worth. If Kangin were less cold towards me and showed some small degree of affection, that would go a long way towards making me feel loved. Not wanting to think any more about that situation, I quickly pushed all thoughts of my husband aside.

“It's very easy to feel that way and it's human nature for us to do that. That's why all of us need loved ones and friends to remind us how valuable we are,” she replied. I nodded trying hard not to frown or cry. Part of me wanted to be jealous of Brinny-chan and hate her for having what I obviously lacked and secretly desired. But seeing her earnestness and friendly manner I just couldn't do it. Plus, word of how she put the snobby Lady Ophelia in her place had reached my ears. I smiled lightly thinking about it. Despite our differences in station and popularity the two of us may be more alike than is apparent at first glance.

A servant knocked on the door, letting me know that the king requested my presence. I thanked Giordanna and sent her on her way. If there was anyone I could count as a friend Giordanna was one of them. There were a few servants who weren't over-awed by my position or put off by my mannerisms. We'd never be able to be close friends but for now the friendly conversation and silly banter would be enough.

“I really enjoyed meeting you, Lady Brinny-chan, and I hope we can meet again soon. There seems to be many things we agree on.”

“The same goes for me, Your Majesty. I'll have to thank Lady Amelie for introducing us. I look forward to talking more with you another time.”

As we were walking out the door I suddenly asked, “By any chance do you like horses?”

Brinny-chan's eyes sparkled and she enthusiastically replied that she had loved them growing up. Unfortunately, her busy schedule recently had kept her from riding, one of her favorite past-times. Excited to finally find a riding partner, I told her that I would be happy to show her around the stables and introduce her to a few of my favorite riding trails. Seeing the answering smile on Brinny-chan's face made me happier than I had been in a long time.

End of flashback and Jagroop's POV

The queen slowly returned to the present and realized that she was alone in the room. She looked at the sun's position and realized it was nearly dinner time. As she walked back to the private dining hall, Jagroop thought ahead with anticipation to the riding party scheduled for the end of the week. Once the other ladies of the court heard that the Formosian ambassador's wife was going horseback riding with the queen they asked to be included. Jagroop knew they asked in the hopes of learning more about Lady Brinny-chan and not because they wished to spend time with her. She would have preferred to have gone alone with Brinny-chan but she wasn't going to miss out on an opportunity to spend time with a possible new friend and show off one of her own strong points.

Kangin was surprised when his wife walked into dinner humming happily to herself. It was rare to see her in such a happy mood. He wondered what happened at the feast a few nights ago; Jagroop had been overall more cheerful since then. An almost imperceptible smile crossed his lips. Despite his indifferent attitude towards her, Kangin wasn't indifferent to her unhappiness and loneliness. He just had no idea how to comfort her and was afraid of showing any signs of sensitivity or as his mother sees it, weakness. Once again he cursed his inability to be a good husband to her. Whatever the cause of Jagroop's happiness, he hoped it would continue.

The tired boy sat in the shade of a tree, his back against the trunk. His horse stood ground tied nearby, munching on the green grass growing along the side of the road. A few scattered crumbs were all that remained of his lunch, eaten in haste. There was very little time available for a break and he wanted to spend as much of it resting as possible. Eyes closed, he slid the blade of his dagger across the whetstone with a practiced hand.

Assassin's POV

I can't believe I'm headed back to the royal city with only three hours of sleep. Even though I understand Earl Kyuhyun's sense of urgency, I can't see what harm another two or three hours of sleep would do. If anything, it would help me be more alert and likely to succeed in my mission. I guess Earl K, my secret nickname for him, is afraid that someone will finish the job before I do. The other assassin has likely stayed in the royal castle, putting me at a disadvantage. But why would King Kangin want the man dead? True, the lord in question is hiding a secret; a potential scandal in the making. Unfortunately for me, it's my job to take that scandal and make it worse by staging a few things.

When the dagger was razor sharp I put it away and began on another. The strokes on the whetstone became stronger and harder as I agonized over my mission. I don't particularly enjoy being an assassin; the spying I do for Earl K is much more to my liking. However, sometimes it is necessary to use lethal force when the Earl's life or welfare is in danger. Those jobs I can handle because I'm protecting my liege and someone whom I owe a huge debt to. This time it's different. My target is not a threat to Earl K in any way that I am aware of. He just happens to have a secret that my employer can exploit to further his own plans.

I gave up on sharpening my daggers as I nearly sliced my hand open in agitation. Instead, I threw the weapons repeatedly into the tree trunk, trying to vent my anger and frustration. If that weren't enough to make me very uneasy, I have to try and fan the flames of the scandal by setting up someone who's completely innocent to take the blame. That's two people whose lives I have to completely destroy and for no fault of their own. The thought of bringing an end to one innocent life by my own hands is enough to greatly upset me. Knowing that if I do my job well another will die by a lynch mob or by execution has me in a state of near panic.

When Earl Kyuhyun told me about this mission and all of the implications occurred to me I wished for probably the first time in my life that he hadn't found me all those years ago and taken me under his wing. In that case I might already be dead by now; killed on the streets or in jail. If he hadn't been so good to me by giving me an extensive education and special privileges then perhaps I wouldn't feel so indebted and I could therefore say “No” and walk away. Instead, here I am, hating this assignment with all that is in me and wishing desperately that the earl will change his mind. My early years have wiped away my ability to cry, otherwise I would be sobbing by now.

End Assassin's POV

The whickering of the horse brought the youth out of his reverie. He sighed realizing the mess he had made of the tree trunk with his daggers. Testing their edges he sighed again; the weapons were almost dull, making his earlier sharpening useless. So the boy pulled out his whetstone once he was on the horse's back. Pointing the horse in the proper direction, he gave it its head and went back to his weapons. Good thing Henry was a master of sharpening blades while riding.

A/N: I have slowed down how often I post these because I've only written up to Chapter 15 and that was completed 4 months ago. One of my friends has been bugging me to start writing again & even sprinkled plot bunny bait all around me.

Every female OC in this story is based upon a friend of mine from SJ-World. Each of them more or less created their own character although I have used some creative license with a few of them. I just hope they all don't hate me at the end.

It wasn't until now that I realized how short my chapters are. All of them, with the exception of Chapter 15, were hand-written so I guess that's what makes them seem so long when I'm writing them. I know how irritated I get by short chapters so perhaps I need to start writing on the computer in order to make them a decent length.

I've posted previous chapters on miracle______ and kpop_het but no one from either community has commented so I don't know if anyone there is interested in it. Anybody have another suggestion for a community where I could post this & hopefully find some new readers??

Also, several of you are *amazing* writers that I aspire to emulate. So please feel free to critique, correct or criticize my work. It'll only help me get better.

Newer baby pics

Here are some pictures we took after Xander's bath the other day. He looks really weird in these pictures, they really don't do him justice. But they're what I have so oh well. His hair looks kind of redish in these pics. It really does turn that color in the right light. Those copper highlights come from my side of the family (obviously). It's nice to see some part of the Jackson line getting passed down.

Do you know how hard it is to type while holding a baby? I've done so much one handed typing lately. Right now he's on my forearms and if he wiggles he'll roll right onto the keyboard.

Finally posting pictures of the baby

Please note - I look like crap in these photos. I was going through hot flashes every 2-3 hours which involved huge amounts of sweating and I hadn't been allowed to shower yet. In the one picture with all 3 children my elder son is wearing a patch on his left eye so it's not some weird camera anomaly that is making his eye disappear. Hopefully my husband will take the more recent pictures off the camera soon. Xander has changed quite a lot since his jaundice disappeared. He is definitely the most Caucasian looking of all my kids. While the other 2 are pale like me they definitely have a yellow-undertone to their skin. Xander, however, is peachy-pink like me. Earlier today my husband called him the "milkman's son" but he was only joking. He agreed that Xander was definitely his kid, big eyes & all.

Finally had the baby!!!

Xander Eli Lin was born Friday, December 10th at 9:45am and he weighed 8 pounds and 15 ounces - 11 ounces more than his sister and 1 ounce less than his brother.

So far he has been a very quiet baby, rarely crying or fussing. Hopefully that will continue. He has a mass of dark hair and beautiful brown eyes. I hope to get some pictures loaded in the next week or so once I go home. I'll probably only stay in the hospital for another day or two because I'm not in all that much pain considering I've been through major abdominal surgery. My recovery has been very quick and uneventful.

Thanks to everyone for their encouraging words and excitement. I'll try to keep updated on what's going on and keep all of you updated on Xander, too.

Hopefully my last pregnancy related post

So my induction went extremely slowly and I never really got into labor. My contractions have almost completely stopped so I'm going for a c section in a little while. I'm not going to go into the frustration of why I didn't get one Wednesday night like I wanted....grrr. So I was supposed to get a c section last night & they even rushed me down to the delivery floor only to have 3 emergency deliveries come in that needed to be done before mine. So I got scheduled for 9 am this morning which is about an hour and 20 minutes away. At least I got to eat dinner (with a special cherry cheesecake dessert from my sweet husband) and was cared for by my favorite nurse who convinced the doctors to keep me off the baby monitor overnight so that I could sleep well.

So I guess it's time to wake my husband up & get ready to meet our son. I'll try to post later in the day if I'm not too doped up on pain medicine to let everyone know how things went. Xander, get ready to meet the world!!!!